[Opinion] Palestinian Children Are The Child Soldiers No One Is Talking About

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For a month, Israel-focused media and NGOs have been fixated on the case of Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian teen whose family scripts physical confrontations with Israeli soldiers. The resulting videos are distributed as either heroic resistance, in the Palestinian version, or cheap media manipulation to demonize Israel. In an awkward attempt to respond to this version of “Pallywood,” the police arrested the teenage Tamimi and she is now facing charges related to the assault and to alleged calls for suicide attacks.

Tamimi is literally the poster child in this propaganda war, which centers on Palestinian children routinely sent by their families to hurl rocks at Israeli cars, confront and taunt soldiers, smuggle telephones to terrorists in prisons, and in some cases, to carry explosives across security checkpoints for use in terror attacks. However, a number of prominent BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) organizations and commentators have instead chosen to ignore Palestinian child combatants and focus on falsely accusing Israel as the guilty party.

This high-visibility case comes amidst the launching of a Palestinian victimization narrative, which focuses on alleged and widespread mistreatment of children. As is generally the case, Israeli child victims are airbrushed out, while images like that of Tamimi are blasted around the world without due diligence from many journalists, politicians, and others. The idea that Palestinians, and the well-known Tamimi clan (which includes Ahlam Tamimi, the leader of horrendous Sbarro bombing in 2002), in particular, would exploit their children for this political warfare is apparently unthinkable.

This campaign is marketed under the catchy slogan of “No Way to Treat a Child,” which targets Western governments and calls for “pressur[ing] the Israeli government to end the detention and abuse of Palestinian children.” The effort is led by a Palestinian organization known as Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP). In November, DCIP held an event in Congress, and Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN) used the same language in her proposed legislation “to prevent United States tax dollars from supporting the Israeli military’s ongoing detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children.” While such activities have failed to gain much attention or support, the large amount of money and other resources being invested point to a growing campaign. The images of “poor Ahed Tamimi” on trial in an Israeli court for assault are now being used to amplify the effort.

Usually overlooked, including by Israelis who believe that the Tamimi family should be held accountable, is that DCIP has reported links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization. DCIP board members Shawan Jabarin (described by the Israeli High Court as acting in a manner of “Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde”), Nassar Ibrahim, and Dr. Majed Nassar all have alleged affiliations with PFLP, and Hashem Abu Maria, a DCIP employee, was hailed by PFLP as a “commander” after his 2014 death. The PFLP is banned as a terror group in the US, Canada, the EU, and Israel.